Dependable Erection

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Well, now that you mention it . . .

The Bible ministry's "City Reachers" project aims to reach newspaper subscribers in eight regions, according to its Web site.

But fundraising for the projects has been slow. None has raised even half the money needed to finance the initiative yet. In Fort Worth, the group faces an Oct. 31 deadline to raise $438,000; so far, only a little more than $13,000 has been collected through church offerings and other efforts.

If the money can't be raised, the project may be delayed.

The society's Paul Tolleson said major fundraising in Fort Worth and other cities has only just begun. Some campaigns already have been delayed, but none have been canceled.

Tolleson expressed frustration with the complaints.

"It's disappointing that anyone would object to getting a Bible, which is the best read book in the whole world and has been for hundreds of years. They have the right to do with it what they want to," he said. "Do they object to getting a bag of Quaker oatmeal or Tide detergent or an AOL disc?"

oh, man, the fun i could have with that if i wasn't so busy.


Continue reading Well, now that you mention it . . .

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Great to be back in the land of productive kvetching, although i will admit that i rather enjoyed going four days without once having my windows rattled by a passing overpowered subwoofer on wheels. A quick look at the inbox tells me i'm going to be busy this week, so light posting will continue for another day or two.

I wanted to give kudos to Rob Christensen, of all people, for a great column on Raleigh buses, which featured some honest-to-God journalistic style research.
Raleigh may be a vibrant, fast-growing city, but it has a Mayberry-sized bus system.

Raleigh buses traveled 14.1 million passenger miles in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That is dwarfed by bus systems in other cities in Raleigh's size category. Buffalo, N.Y., buses traveled 63 million passenger miles; Cincinnati, 139 million passenger miles; Pittsburgh, 255 million passenger miles; Richmond, Va., 33 million passenger miles; Tampa, Fla., 47 million passenger miles. Charlotte, which is nearly twice the size of Raleigh, had 74 million passenger miles, or five times the passenger miles of Raleigh.

I'll have to find Rob's source, and see what the numbers are for Durham. I've got a hunch, though, how they'll turn out.

And Tony Taylor, one of Michael Vick's co-defendants in the dog fighting case up in Virginia, has copped a plea, confessing to having purchased the property on Vick's dime in order to set up a breeding/fighting operation.

One of Michael Vick's co-defendants pleaded guilty Monday to his role in a dogfighting conspiracy he says was financed almost entirely by the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.

As part of a plea agreement, Tony Taylor pledged to fully cooperate with the government in its prosecution of Vick and two other men accused of running an interstate dogfighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels" on Vick's property in rural Surry County.

"The 'Bad Newz Kennels' operation and gambling monies were almost exclusively funded by Vick," a summary of facts supporting the plea agreement and signed by Taylor states.

At this point, the only question remaining is whether Michael Vick can plant a reasonable doubt in a jury's mind that he was involved in the dog fighting operation. There shouldn't be any doubt that the allegations of dog fighting, and the brutality of killing dogs that were either losers or not up to snuff, are true. During one of my countless hours in front of the TV last week, i heard an interview with another NFL player (or perhaps former player, i didn't catch who it was) claiming that Vick represents essentially the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dog fighting in the NFL. While i hope that is not the case, i also hope that the feds are investigating this quite seriously. There's no place for dog fighting in a civilized society, and a couple of high profile prosecutions can go a long way toward eliminating this unnnecessary cruelty from the US.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Sunday, July 29, 2007

How did they do it?

Congratulations to the Iraqi soccer team for winning the Asian Cup final against the Saudis.

I really hope no one dies as a result.

Labels: ,

Continue reading How did they do it?

Road thoughts

One of the advantages of the kind of traveling i'm doing this week has been to see a lot of media of the kind i rarely watch - namely, TV news. Airports, hospital waiting rooms, restaurants, home, it's basically been on non-stop since Thursday morning. And it's a thorough refresher in why our political discourse is stuck in such a quicksand of ineffectuality, why we are unable for example, despite large majorities of public opinion, to even begin a discussion of changing our Iraq policy.

There's no history in TV news. Everything happened today, unless, of course, it happened 25 years ago today and we, fortunately, have videotape of it happening, which we'll show you, and it'll look like it happened today. There's no context for anything. Everything takes place on its own, in some media aether, where it miraculously makes its to the newsroom where, equally miraculously, news directors and managing editors are equipped with the necessary equipment to convert it into "stories" intelligible by the rest of us.

The "story" over the past few days that embodies this the best, in my mind, concerns the two helicopters which crashed in Phoenix, AZ, on Friday, killing both pilots and the TV reporters who were in each 'copter. Most big cities have multiple local TV stations equipped with these helicopters, which they dispatch with alacrity whenever there's a major and disruptive traffic accident (i knew more on Friday afternoon about the deadly accident on I-40 near Raleigh, for instance, than did many of the people actually on the road), or a hostage situation, or a police chase.

It's a given that people on the outside of "the glass" want to, and are entitled to, see these images for their entertainment. In fact, it's likely that these images will eventually be repackaged for viewing in any of the many real life Cops and Robbers shows that are a staple of syndication. It's cheap content, and that's what drives much of the decision making process which puts those news 'copters in the air in the first place.

Which is why it's absurd to hear (and read in the paper) that the man the police were chasing at the time may be held responsible for the deaths of the 4 people in the helicopters when they crashed. What chain of logic has to be followed to reach this conclusion? It's one thing to say that a guy being chased by the police is responsible for death and injury if he runs a red light or causes an accident on the ground. But if a news director has his "news gathering" team up in the air obtaining images of a police chase, images whose primary purpose is the entertainment of the audience and concomitant ratings for the station (and perhaps a secondary purpose of providing evidence in the future, evidence which might be used in favor of either law enforcement or the defendant), then shouldn't responsibility begin with the TV stations themselves, and end with the pilots? It's not like the guy was firing heatseeking missiles in the air.

Another story that's being covered in a predictably disappointing way is the Michael Vick case.

While i'm glad to say that i have not yet seen Mike Nifong's name raised in connection with the case (and if anybody else has, please let me know with a cite. I'm talking about the principals and/or the MSM here, not the blogosphere), what i've seen the past few days has been remarkably consistent. Michael Vick's case is polarizing the country along racial lines! Who would have figured?

Interesting that despite Al Sharpton's (who is usually the media's go-to guy when it comes to telling us how African Americans think about an issue) appearances on behalf of PETA early on in the case, CNN has uncovered other African American media people to stoke the racial divide. This morning on "Reliable Sources" a Chicago based radio host whose name i didn't catch defended Vick along the usual lines (innocent until proven guilty, would this be happening to a white athlete?), and then made the astounding claim that dog-fighting has been going on since the beginning of time!

Where do these people come from? The Roman Empire is not the beginning of time. Does he think we should also bring back slavery and gladiatorial combat to the death, two other well-known practices of the Romans? Does he think no one else has ever been prosecuted for dog fighting?

Here's what we know about the Vick case (and we'll know more tomorrow after one of Vick's co-defendants cops his plea.) Nobody has yet denied the allegations that dog-fighting occurred on Vick's property, or that dogs were put to death in the brutal fashion described in the indictment. Vick's defense, at least so far as his public statements are concerned, is based on his claim that he wasn't involved in anything that was going on at the property which he owns in Virginia.

Real stand up guy, it seems to me.

"I have a dream," Martin Luther King said, "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

That's how Michael Vick should be judged as well.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Road thoughts

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Roxboro St., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Didn't see that coming, again

Ticket sales for the North Carolina lottery's first fiscal year fell well short of expectations, generating about $110 million less in education funds than legislators had projected.

Expect to see marginally higher prizes for the scratch-off games, significantly more advertising, especially billboards in lower income communities, and lots of head scratching as the legislature tries to figure out how to make up the shortfall.

There's a problem with trying to raise money from poor people. I'll bet some of you can figure out what it is.



Continue reading Didn't see that coming, again

What's that smell?

Just a quick question - anybody know what the burning odor enveloping Durham this morning was? Seemed strongest on the west side of town (Guess Rd - Hillandale Rd exits on I-85), but i noticed it also in Duke Park leaving the house. None of the news sites mention it.

Hopefully, the compost pile hasn't blazed up again.


Continue reading What's that smell?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Out of town

I've got to head out of town for the better part of a week to tend to some family matters, which means i'm cramming 5 days of work into the next day and a half, so posting will be spotty 'til next Tuesday or so.

I'll certainly let you know if i hear from the Boy Scouts about the use of the Confederate battle flag (National Capital Area Council of BSA website is here, for those inclined to do their own contacting), and if i should find my cool anywhere, i'll write about that too.

Go eat some Locopops or something.

Continue reading Out of town


I still read a fair amount of science fiction, though not as much as i did even ten years ago. I make sure to keep up with Gardner Dozois' Year's Best SF and SFWA's annual Nebula Award volumes. And anything new from Gene Wolfe.

I was thinking maybe it had something to do with how our world has changed so much over the past 2 decades, and maybe SF hasn't kept pace. William Gibson, for example, is writing about virtually the same world he wrote about in the early 80s, except now he's our most realistic, and best, narrator of the world as it is. Pattern Recognition was barely SF, and the reviews i've read of Spook Country have me thinking it's more of the same. (Don't misunderstand; Pattern Recognition is one of the best novels i've read in the past 10 years.)

But i'm in a SF reading group with Joe and a few other people, and our current volume (name withheld to protect the innocent) opened my eyes.


You see, in a good SF novel, there are one or two changes from the world in which we live, and these changes have percolated, resonated, and steamrollered through the novel's society, changing it in ways that make it unrecognizable to our own. Or so many authors believe. And the narrative device by which these changes are made known is often the infodump. In a less skilled hand, the infodump is analogous to a brick wall across the freeway, simply impassable. Why this should be, i can't say. The infodump was an essential part of golden era SF, and Asimov and Heinlein, who were not terrific prose stylists, handled it easily. But in much of what i've read from some of today's young masters, the infodump, and its close cousin the Laundry List of Things That Make This City Different, are just indigestible. My friend Terry has a theory. As the price of mass-market paberpacks has increased to $8 and $9, both publishers and readers feel that a book's heft is indicative of its value. Think of J. G. Ballard's early 60s catastrophe novels (The Wind From Nowhere) pumped up to the size of Sherri Tepper's Grass. It's like SF's own steroids era. A lot of stuff that could (and would have been 40 years ago) edited out, is not only kept in, but artificially inflated to the size of a Macy's parade balloon.

Which got me thinking about a novel i could write.

A guy walks into a bar. It's a bar on an alien planet in a far solar system being terraformed. He orders a beer. As the bartender pulls the tap, he starts telling the guy about how the grain that made the beer isn't barley, but a genetically modified rice brought over on the first ship 40 years prior, although the hops are actually Cascade from the Yakima Valley, which happened to thrive in the moist soil and the often overcast long days. The yeast, however, is native to the planet, but so similar to Saccharomyces cerevisiae that neither biology nor cosmology can explain how two planets, 150 light years apart, could produce nearly identical organisms. He goes on to describe to farms in the Southern hemisphere where the grain is grown, and the semi-intelligent native species that have been domesticated as labor to keep the farms productive, the presence of an underground movement dedicated to ending the exploitation of the native species, how things are Different in the rock and sand factories up north, where the natives can't survive the long winters. There's a sidetrack to a history of the various governors the planet has had, and the different structures the government has experimented with, including references to the times back on Old Earth that similar structures were used with varying degrees of success. Thinking about the Free Labor movement gets the bartender to ruminate on the 25 hour day, 8 day week of the planet, how there's only one day off during the week, how the days of the week and the hours of the day got their names (because they're not the same as the ones we, the readers, know. How could they be? there's 8 of them).

Two hundred pages later the bartender says "Here's your beer. That'll be 4 Leinsters."

The guy reaches into his manpurse for some cash, and starts ruminating about money, and the faces on the various bills and why they were chosen for which denomination, and the other history of the planet and the terraforming project which, as a former foreman for the Really Big Company which had roots on Old Earth, he has the special inside knowledge of.

One hundred and thirty pages later, he utters the phrase which gives the novel its name, "Keep the Change."


Continue reading Infodump

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Road trip, part 2

Here's another interesting thing i saw on the road coming back from the mountains yesterday.

I was curious as to whether the Boy Scouts, who have policies in place relating to the presence of homosexuals in their organization, also have policies in place regarding supporters of slavery and of nations which declared war on the United States of America. The logo on the trailer does not say, "Boy Scouts of America," although the fleur-de-lis is very similar to the official BSA logo. So i've sent this letter to the local BSA Council which encompasses Manassas, VA. I'll post the response when i get it.

Hi - i took the picture attached over the weekend on Highway 85 near Greensboro, North Carolina. Can you confirm whether or not the named troop is a member in good standing of the Boy Scouts of America, specifically the National Capital Area Council?

The trailer did not say "Boy Scouts of America" on it, but it does use a symbol very close to the official Boy Scouts fleur-de-lis?

If they are in good standing, can you confirm that it is official BSA policy to allow the use of the Confederate Battle Flag in promoting any BSA activities? If they are not members, do you have a policy regarding the misleading use of BSA symbols?

Barry Ragin
Durham, North Carolina

Labels: ,

Continue reading Road trip, part 2

Road trip

I had to make a run up the mountains of western NC yesterday, and saw some interesting sights on the road.

First though, a rundown of Friday night's Warehouse Blues show.

Skeeter Brandon's not getting any younger, and some health issues kept him off the stage for much of the second set, but he did recover enough to give us a great version of Rainy Night in Georgia. Friday's beverage? Leinie wheats.

Now the structure of the West Village courtyard is such that you can only see the sky overhead, not the horizon. Fortunately, this show hung on long enough for us to see it on the way home.

From the Brightleaf Square parking lot.

Now, for the road trip.

I've owned only about half a dozen or so cars in my adult life. They've all had personalities, most have had names, and several were clearly possessed of gender. My 73 Subaru, Angel, was female, and my 87 B2000, which i've owned for almost 21 years now, is a mule named Beauregard.

People who don't get it ask on occasion, how you can tell if a car is male or female? It's not always easy, but sometimes the vehicle has distinguishing characteristics.

This truck, for instance, is clearly male, as a closeup photo reveals.

I wonder if his name is Major?

More sights from yesterday's trip to follow later.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Road trip

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 86, Hillsborough, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Great moments in sports headlines

Stoner captures Laguna Seca pole

Seriously, dude.


Continue reading Great moments in sports headlines

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush to undergo colonoscopy on Saturday

A colonoscopy is a test that allows doctors to look inside the large intestine for possible tumors. Snow said the procedure Bush is undergoing will be a follow-up to a test he had in 2002.

Two thoughts. Having had this procedure myself, i know that when they have you coming back at 5 year intervals, it's because they found something they didn't like previously.

And second, that means we get President Cheney for 3 or 4 hours tomorrow.

The vision of George Bush sitting on the toilet shitting lemonade for a day does not make up for the horrors of this actuality. Please, nobody do anything stupid tomorrow.


Continue reading Bush to undergo colonoscopy on Saturday

Tonight's the night

So it's Friday, July 20, and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people in costumes will be camping out in bookstores waiting for the midnight release of the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga.

Put me squarely in the camp of those who Think That This is a Good Thing.

See, even though i've never read a word of J.K.Rowling's, i like my local bookseller. I like your local bookseller. Hell, i even like the dueling big box bookstores straddling the Orange/Durham county line, approved by zoning boards hoping to increase sales tax revenues by luring shoppers from out of town.

And an event like this one generates enough revenue for these guys to stay in business a little bit longer; to keep the shelves stocked with something interesting that i don't know that i want to buy until i pick it up and hold it in my hands; to host that reading i didn't know i was interested in until i happened to be walking by.

2007 also saw the publication of the concluding volume of another literary series by a master of contemporary fantasy. Endless Things, the fourth book of John Crowley's Ægypt series came out in May of this year, without the fanfare of the Deathly Hallows, but no less anticipated by its fans.

Crowley, for those of you unfamiliar with him, is the author of the much loved (and World Fantasy Award winning) novel, Little, Big, as well as my choice for best science fiction novel of the 20th century, Engine Summer.

Ægypt tells the story of Pierce Moffett, a somewhat underachieving professor of history at a private New York college. Denied tenure and seeking a place to practice his art, Pierce finds himself almost by chance in the upstate New York town of Blackbury Jambs, in the Faraway Hills, somewhat west and north of the big city. He has an idea for a book (which may in fact turn out to be the very books we are reading) which he is able to turn into an advance, enough money to live humbly in the small town without worries. And it turns out that Fellowes Kraft, a writer of historical fictions of some minor fame who influenced the younger Pierce greatly, lived and died in the Jambs. Through more Fateful Circumstance, Pierce becomes somewhat of the executor of Kraft's literary estate, and discovers his last, unfinished and unpublished novel, which makes up much of the rest of the books we are reading. Kraft's novel is about the same themes that Pierce's book is intended reveal, that the world was once different than it is now, and that it worked in different ways. Told as somewhat of a biography of both John Deeand Giordano Bruno, this novel within a novel makes the claim that there are discrete periods in time whent he workings of the world change, and that once effected, those changes somehow become retroactive. Once the universe revolved around the earth, and then, once it was understood that the earth was not the center of all things, it had never been that way. (Difficult concept to explain, i know, and i'm sure i'm doing a sucky job of it. Go read the books).

But maybe, because smart people can know themselves to be on the cusp of that change, it's possible to make a thing that will survive, and bring part of the old world into the new. And that, on subsequent turnings of the world (1588 was one such according to the novel; 1977, in which the "contemporary" parts of the novel occur perhaps another) it's possible to look both back and ahead and see the different ways the world has been, and might be in the future.

So, i'm only halfway through the series, rereading to remind myself of the characters and the turns of plot before picking up the last volume. There's an interesting history involved in just the publication of the books. First, it's been twenty years since the first volume came out, and Crowley has indicated he started work on the series back in 1980. Ægypt was supposed to be the umbrella title for the series; somehow the first volume, intended to be called The Solitudes was instead published under that collective title. The subsequent volume, Love and Sleep, does not indicate anywhere on its cover, at least in the edition i own, that it's part of the same series. The seven year gap between each of the books necessitates a lot of extraneous backfilling, which Crowley indicates is going to be purged from subsequent editions, now that the series is complete. Perhaps that explains the change in publishers to Small Beer Press.

Sounds good to me.

Oh, and if you're going to a Harry Potter party tonight - have a blast. And avoid spoilers.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Tonight's the night

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Te recuerdo

I'd be remiss in letting July 19 pass without mentioning this.

Continue reading Te recuerdo

Durham Police Chief - It's Lopez

From a City of Durham press release:

· During today’s press conference, City Manager Patrick W. Baker will announce that Jose L. Lopez, Sr. will be the next police chief for the City of Durham. Lopez will be present for today’s announcement.

· Lopez will begin his new position with the City effective September 1, 2007. His annual salary will be $125,000. He was selected following a seven-month search process that included a public forum.

· Prior to accepting the police chief position with the City, Lopez has been the assistant police chief in Hartford, Conn. since 2006. Prior to this position, he served as the deputy chief of the Hartford Police Department’s South Division from 2006-2005. He has also served as captain, lieutenant, sergeant and patrol officer in Hartford, Conn. from 2005-1983; investigator for the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety from 1983-1982; and as a military police officer in the United States Air Force at Barksdale Air Base, Bossier City, La. from 1980-1976.

· Lopez holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in political science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY. He is also a graduate of the 183rd Session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, Quantico, Va.; the Supervisory Leadership Course at Tunxis Community College’s Criminal Justice Command Institute, Farmington, Conn. Lopez is currently a candidate in the Public Policy Master’s Program at Trinity College, Hartford, Conn.

OK, the wait is over. I think Lopez was the best choice of the three finalists for the job and for the city, and i'm glad that the drawn out process did not lead to any extra difficulties.

Welcome to Durham, Jose Lopez.


Continue reading Durham Police Chief - It's Lopez

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Betting on Michael Vick

If i was an oddsmaker, i'd put the over/under on the first mention of Mike Nifong from Michael Vick's defense attorneys at 11 am Friday morning.

And as a side note, why is this only being covered in the sports section?

Continue reading Betting on Michael Vick

Signs of the times

Roxboro and Markham, Durham, NC


Continue reading Signs of the times

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bad quarterback, no bonus

This'll make Toastie happy:
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three other men were indicted on conspiracy charges tied to a dog-fighting operation by a federal grand jury in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday.

They are charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and to sponsor a dog in an animal-fight venture, according to documents from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia.

If convicted on the travel and interstate commerce portion, each faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Conviction on the animal-fighting part of the charges could bring each one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Of course, Michael Vick is entitled to a fair trial by a jury of his peers, and the best lawyers his not inconsiderable wealth can buy.

Which is a lot more than those dogs will ever get.

UPDATE: This AP report provides plenty of gruesome details. If the allegations prove true and the defendants are convicted, 5 years and a $350,000 fine amounts to a slap on the wrist for this kind of cruelty:
About eight young dogs were put to death at the Surry County home after they were found not ready to fight in April 2007, the indictment said. They were killed "by hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

Continue reading Bad quarterback, no bonus

Grocery wars

From a recipe found in a Dannon yogurt container:

First, you toast an Israeli . . .


Continue reading Grocery wars

Graffiti - the nice kind

An anonymous commenter directed me to the Acadia St. entrance to the new walking trail in Duke Park. There's some new graffiti there "worth a picture."

So i stopped by. And what i saw there, which i'll share with you below, got me thinking a bit. Regular readers should have surmised by now that i'm not opposed to spontaneous public art. The blank canvas that is the Duke Park traffic circle is a constant source of levity, which i try to occasionally bring to a wider audience. Living around New York City back in the 70s, when train art was at its peak, gave me an appreciation for the common need to bring chromatic beauty to the gray and mundane objects of our daily lives, which even the meanest poverty can't weigh down for ever.

Somewhere in the Big Box of Photos That I Will Never Get Around To Sorting is a shot of a mural of giraffes painted on an urban highway overpass. I can't recall now if it was from the BQE in Brooklyn, or I-540 in Oakland.

But, and this seems as well a common function of our humanity, after a time what was originally fresh, new, and joyful becomes burdensome, dreary, and oppressive. The subway car wide murals become unreadable magic marker tags covering everything, less attractive than naked, flat gray steel. The giraffes become signposts, territorial markers warning rivals away.

The problem, or one of the problems anyway, is that there's no objective boundary to clearly define the spontaneous, joy bringing art from the nasty stuff. Your tastes and mine differ; our defining lines fall in different places along the spectrum.

So, here's what i saw on Acadia St. last night.

And i'm OK with it, for a couple of reasons. It's cute and whimsical. The flower growing up from the weeds along the wall. The happy message. The fish. (Well, maybe not the fish. What are they doing there, anyway?) The best part, though, and what makes it acceptable to me?

It's done in sidewalk chalk. One good rain, and it's gone. It doesn't seek to claim ownership of what is, after all, communal property. It doesn't say "This is mine, not yours."

And that's where i draw my lines.

UPDATE: When i first started drafting this post, i had been thinking about something i'd seen on Joe's blog, and meant to link to that. But i spaced by the time i finished. But if you want to see an example of spontaneous public art that doesn't seek to claim territory, proclaim ennui, or exclaim wrath, check it out.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Graffiti - the nice kind

Monday, July 16, 2007

More bus stuff

Kevin over at Bull City Rising is taking the bus this week, and his first post about his adventures is drawing a lot of commentary.

I've already weighed in with my thoughts on the bus here and here

I've been having a discussion with Michael about what is a reasonable level of service froma municipal transit system, as far as bus stops with shelters goes.

It's proving to be a hard topic to research online.

Here's an article that ran in the San Antonio Business Journal last year, for example:
A survey of San Antonio public transit riders shows that 84 percent of respondents said they have ridden the bus more since VIA Metropolitan Transit had bus shelters installed at local stops.

That's at least according to Cemusa, the company VIA selected to manufacture and install outdoor transit furniture at its local bus stops. The ridership figure is up 10 percentage points since Cemusa first installed the local bus shelters in 2003, the company reports.

Cemusa commissioned the customer satisfaction survey to determine whether local bus patrons are happy with the bus shelters.

Not only do the shelters provide cover from the sweltering San Antonio heat during the summer months, but they also provide a place to sit while waiting for the bus. Companies like Cemusa pay for the installation of the shelters, while the companies make money off the sale of outdoor advertising space.

The article doesn't say what percentage of bus stops have shelters, however.

An audit of the South Yorkshire bus system in England mentions:
The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority is responsible for:

* five public transport interchanges situated at Meadowhall, Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham;
* 7,700 bus stops and 3,100 bus shelters; and
* four park and ride sites.

But we don't know, for example, if bus stops include bus shelters (ie, is the total number of facilities 7,700, or 10,800?), and the level of service that a bus shelter provides that a bus stop doesn't. But at minimum about 30%, and maybe as much as 40% of the bus stops are provided with shelters.

In Seattle, about 15 - 20% of the city's 9400 bus stops have shelters, and 75% of the ridership is served, or so they claim. Durham only has about 1500 bus stops total, and only about 10% of those have shelters or benches. Tripling the number of bus stops with shelters to 400 - 500, would probably put 80% or more of DATA's ridership under a roof while waiting for the bus, which in turn might very well lead to an increase in the number of people like me willing to ride the bus.

Good for Kevin for taking on this project. If the state of public transportation in Durham becomes an issue in this fall's election, we'll know who to thank.


Continue reading More bus stuff

Sign o' the times

Corner of Roxboro and Markham, Durham, NC


Continue reading Sign o' the times

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Traffic circle blogging

Special farewell to Christa edition.


Continue reading Traffic circle blogging

Viva Los Lobos del Este Los Angeles

Another amazing set from the ageless ones last night at the NC Museum of Art amphitheater. Highlights for me were a version of "Saint Behind the Glass," which i've never seen live before, and old chestnuts "What More Can I Do" and "Come On, Let's Go."

And i'm still a moron, as i pulled into the parking lot, and realized my camera was still next to the computer.


I'm stashing it in the car from now on.

Here's a shot of the insert from the new "Acoustic en Vivo" cd, signed by the band for my daughter, who had quite the experience at her first Los Lobos show 9 years ago, and lived to tell the tale.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Viva Los Lobos del Este Los Angeles

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Guess Rd., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Friday, July 13, 2007

More thoughts on Durham police chief search

Ray Gronberg in the Herald-Sun is also reporting that his sources say that Patrick Baker is going to select Jose Lopez as Durham's next police chief. So unless Ray's source is Matt Dees, then i think we can take it as confirmed that Lopez is Patrick Baker's choice.

Which as i've indicated previously, i think is a good thing. We can't know if Lopez is the best of all possible candidates for the job, but of the three finalists, i think he makes the most sense to lead Durham's police force, for several reasons. Not least, of course, is the damage to DPD's reputation as a result of the Duke lacrosse case. Credibility is a key issue. We're already seeing fallout from the case, as grand juries have refused to return several indictments. We can expect to go through a period where every defense lawyer worth his suspenders is going to bring up DPD and the Durham District Attorney's office at every possible moment. Getting beyond that is a pretty important step.

Durham's growing Latino population is another factor. Many Latinos remain isolated, whether by language or other barriers, from the community at large. In the long term, we know that won't be the case, but in the short term, whatever steps we can take to hasten the end of that isolation are welcome.

Of course, if Lopez wasn't qualified for the job, none of that would mean shit, but he is, so we get that as a bonus.

Now, here's the rub, and the reason why i think Patrick Baker needs to get out in front on this issue, and not delay for "another 7 -10 days" in announcing his choice. Under the best case scenario. Baker would have made his choice public after a contract had been agreed and approval by the Council a certainty. Now that this choice has been leaked, we're way beyond best-case scenarios. In fact, it's not hard to game out a number of things that can go wrong between now and say, next Friday. Adn if they do, do you really think it will look good for a second choice candidate to be offered the DPD position. Especially if the second choice is current Deputy Chief Hodge?

No, what is most likely to happen if something goes wrong with the Lopez appointment is that Durham will have to conduct yet another search for a chief. And that scenario is too familiar to contemplate.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the process goes according to plan.

Labels: ,

Continue reading More thoughts on Durham police chief search

Bob Allen update

Following up on an earlier post about John McCain's Florida co-chair, we learn from Josh that
Where we left things was whether Florida state Rep. Bob Allen (R), Florida co-chair of the McCain campaign, had offered to pay a Titusville plain clothes police officer for oral sex or whether he had asked to be paid for oral sex. The price, in either case, you'll remember was to be $20.

Well, mystery solved. Courtesy of TPM Reader VS we were able to track down the arrest report. As officer Kavanaugh explains in the arrest report "Allen engaged me in a conversation in which it was agreed that he would pay me $20.00 in order to perform a 'blow job' on me."

So now we know why the McCain campaign is running out of funds.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Bob Allen update

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A new cause for Nifong bashers?

From the AP:
Prosecutor under fire in teen sex case

David McDade has handed out some 35 copies of a video of teenagers having sex at a party.

McDade is no porno kingpin, but a district attorney. And he says Georgia's open-records law leaves him no choice but to release the footage because it was evidence in one of the state's most turbulent cases — that of Genarlow Wilson, a young man serving 10 years in prison for having oral sex with a girl when they were teenagers.

McDade's actions have opened him up to accusations that he is vindictively misusing his authority to keep Wilson behind bars — and worse, distributing child pornography.

"This has been a ferocious, vindictive prosecution of Genarlow Wilson," said state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat. "What is going on is a vendetta."

. . .

Earlier this week, Georgia's chief federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, said the video "constitutes child pornography under federal law," and he called on McDade's office to stop releasing copies.

"These laws are intended to protect the children depicted in such images from the ongoing victimization of having their sexual activity viewed by others," Nahmias said.

Nahmias' office refused to say whether he would bring criminal charges against the D.A.

Critics say that at the very least, McDade should have obscured the faces of the underage girls to conceal their identity, or sought a protective order to keep the material under seal.

. . .

Several Wilson supporters likened McDade to disgraced Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong and called on Georgia's attorney general to investigate.

"Mike Nifong lost his license, and if he lost his license, then certainly a district attorney that distributes child pornography ought to be investigated," the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, said Thursday.

. . .

The law Wilson was convicted of breaking made consensual oral sex between teens a felony. It has since been changed by the Georgia Legislature. But the state's courts have held that the new law cannot be applied retroactively.

A judge last month called Wilson's sentence "a grave miscarriage of justice" and ordered him set free. But prosecutors are trying to block his release. The Georgia Supreme Court is set to hear the case next week.

McDade fought a bill in the Legislature earlier this year that would have helped Wilson. Some lawmakers who were on the fence changed their mind after seeing the tape.

Let's see who, of all of the many groups and individuals who have been working so hard to support the Duke lacrosse players, stands up in this case.


Continue reading A new cause for Nifong bashers?

Durham police chief search update

My inbox just exploded with a bunch of emails.

From the N&O:

Jose Lopez Sr. of Hartford, Conn., is in final
negotiations with City Manager Patrick Baker to become
Durham?s new police chief, The News & Observer has

Several people with knowledge of the search and hiring
process, speaking on condition of anonimity, said
Lopez will travel to Durham either tomorrow or
Saturday to allow his wife to get to know the area.

via email. will update with inks shortly.

UPDATE: OK, here's the link to Matt Dees' story.

My thinking is that this is a good move. It would have been better if Mr. Baker had gotten the word out to the community, rather than a leaked story, though. That's only one of the problems arising from the lengthy delay in naming the new chief.


Continue reading Durham police chief search update

Great moments in headline writing

Reuters headline:
Americans tired of Iraq war, split on withdrawal

What's so great about that headline? Here's the copy:
A USA Today/Gallup poll this week showed more than seven in 10 Americans favor withdrawing nearly all U.S. troops by April, and several surveys show the approval ratings for Bush, a Republican, are at the lows of his presidency.

Those approval ratings are now in the high 20s.

So Americans, by nearly 3-1 favor "withdrawing nearly all U.S. troops by April," and by more than 2-1 disapprove of the job being done by the president.

Where else could such a lopsided margin be described as a "split"?

Labels: ,

Continue reading Great moments in headline writing

They really don't get it

As expected, former White House Counsel Harriet Myers, whose short lived nomination to the US Supreme Court prompted some of the best belly laughs on the right since Dennis Miller got fired from Monday Night Football, failed to honor a House Judiciary sub-committee subpoena today.

White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said, "If the House Judiciary Committee wants to avoid confrontation, it should withdraw its subpoenas."

Dude. Why would the Judiciary Committee want to avoid confrontation? The majority of the American people are begging the Congress to confront the White House. What dream world are you living on?


Continue reading They really don't get it

Maybe there's a better idea?

Via Snopes, we learn that plans to hold monthly memorials for fallen soldiers at Fort Lewis, Washington, rather than individual ceremonies for each lost life, has sparked an outcry.

On 22 May 2007, Brig. Gen. William Troy, then the post's interim commander, announced that in light of the increased numbers of casualties, the post would move to holding monthly ceremonies.

Your blog post at is an unauthorized reproduction of copyright-protected material taken from our article at

Please remove this material from your blog promptly.

Here's a thought. Let's see if we can't eliminate those funerals altogether.

UPDATE: Snopes believes that quoting extracts from their post violates their copyright. I've left in the first paragraph, which falls under every fair use doctrine of which i'm aware, and replaced the rest of the contents with their letter to me. If i get a chance later today, i'll replace the text of the article with somwething that isn't in violation.

Hey - thanks for reading!


Continue reading Maybe there's a better idea?

Homeland security?

Yesterday it was Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, who oversees a department with a pretty large budget, saying he had a "gut feeling" that the US was under increased threat of attack from terrorists this summer.

Today we learn that the problem may not be terrorists, but rather more Bush Administration incompetence:
Undercover investigators, working for a fake firm, obtained a license to buy enough radioactive material to build a "dirty bomb," amid little scrutiny from federal regulators, according to a government report obtained on Wednesday.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the license to the dummy company in just 28 days with only a cursory review, the Government Accountability Office said in a report to be released on Thursday.

The GAO, which set up the sting, said the NRC approved the license after a couple of faxes and phones calls and then mailed it to the phony company's headquarters -- a drop box at a United Parcel Service location.

"From the date of application to the issuance of the license, the entire process lasted 28 days," the GAO said. "GAO investigators essentially obtained a valid materials license from the NRC without ever leaving their desks."

As far as i can tell, the entire modus operandi of the Bush administration is to sow fear among the people, and then claim they are the only ones who can keep us safe.

Where have we seen that before?

By the way, Chertoff backed off his remarks a bit when he got called out on them.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Homeland security?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


From Josh Marshall's TPM:
Only today, Florida state Representative Bob Allen (R), who is co-chairman of McCain's Florida campaign, was arrested in a Titusville park restroom on charges of solicitation after he approached a plain clothes police officer and offered to perform oral sex on the officer for $20.

I knew McCain's campaign was hurting for money, but i hadn't realized things had gotten this bad for the guy.

Labels: ,

Continue reading WTF?

Jim Black

So Jim Black's going to jail for 5 years.

A few thoughts cross my mind.

Last year, at the Durham County Democratic Party convention, a motion to call on Jim Black to resign was defeated, by, as i recall, an almost 2-1 margin. I'm still pretty new to party politics, and the 06 convention was my first. I should probably have spoken my mind, but i didn't, although i did vote in favor of the motion. Corruption is corruption, and if Democrats want to govern, we need to keep our house clean, not hide behind platitudes of "protecting our own." If our own are not doing the job honestly, we need to call them on it.

Now that Black's gone, can we dump the stupid lottery as well?

Finally, what do you think the reaction will be from conservatives if Gov. Easley commutes Jim Black's sentence?

Labels: , ,

Continue reading Jim Black

Doug Marlette 1949-2007


Regardless of what you thought about his work, that's too young.

Condolences to his family.

Continue reading Doug Marlette 1949-2007

Now, that's what i call dependable

Via August J. Pollack, we learn that residents of the town of Keizer, OR are having some issues over a new pedestrian safety feature. Seems that the stone posts lining one of the town's intersections resemble stone penises.

Of course, the proposed solution may not be any better.
The city is looking into retrofitting the posts with metal collars and chains that run between them, which they hope will change the look.

I think that leather collars will work better, myself. And if they do end up getting rid of the penis pedestrian protectors anyway, maybe we can get a few shipped out here. I know a traffic circle that's looking a little lonely right now.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Now, that's what i call dependable

Oh. My. God.

Saw a commercial for this movie the other night.

Words fail.

At least it's only one more year till Miyazaki has a new release.


Continue reading Oh. My. God.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You're crazy for taking the bus - update

Looks like i'm not the only one noticing that as the Triangle's cities get larger, the needs for a bus system that actually serves the community get more pressing.

From the N&O:
Out of roughly 1,700 stops (in Raleigh), nearly 1,600 lack shelters. More than 1,300 stops lack even a bench, leaving the majority of Capital Area Transit's riders -- 13,000 a day -- to stand by a lonely pole. Durham riders face much the same: 150 shelters or benches for 1,500 stops. In Chapel Hill, the chance of catching shelter or a seat at one of the 606 stops is about 1 in 3.

That's right, only 10% of Durham's bus stops have either shelter from the elements or a place to sit.

The reason, at least in Raleigh:
. . . Raleigh provides far too few on its limited budget of $13 million to operate the bus system, a sum that equals about what the city is spending to widen two roads.

cities experiencing the growth that Triangle cities are currently have choices to make. There are more people to move around, but essentially the same amount of space in which to move them. Widening roads and building new ones, which amounts to socializing the costs of a private transportation decision, only does so much. Public transportation is going to have to receive a much larger chunk of the budget if Triangle cities (and to be honest, i'm mostly talking about Durham. If Wake County citizens want to live in little Atlanta, that's their choice) are going to retain their livability in the face of astounding growth rates over the next decade or so.


Continue reading You're crazy for taking the bus - update

Duke's Board of Trustees: We don't know anybody who lives in Durham

Fifteen months ago, i wrote about why Duke University president Richard Brodhead pissed me off in his handling of the lacrosse case.

What set me off was Brodhead's casual inclusion of himself as one of "Durham's leaders," along with Mayor Bill Bell and then NCCU Chancellor James Ammons.

See, Duke's president serves at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees of the University. Of the 37 members of the board last year, precisely 2 were Durham residents, and one of those was Brodhead himself. So any claim by Brodhead to be a "Durham leader" is specious.

Duke recently named seven new trustees, none of whom are Durham residents, although one is supposedly from Chapel Hill. The Duke Board of Trustees page, which claims to present the 2007-2008 board, only lists a few of these seven new names, however, and does not list the Chapel Hill resident as a board member yet.

Regardless, the new Board does not include a single Durham resident aside from Dick Brodhead.

I don't know if Duke's by-laws require that all trustees be Duke grads, but even if they do, there are many dozens of qualified people living in town that Duke could have chosen for this important position. Surely one of them would have accepted a seat on the Board.

Next time Dick Brodhead tries to make the claim that he's a leader of Durham, ask him why he hasn't been able to find a single Durham resident to serve on his board. Ask him how hard he's looked.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Duke's Board of Trustees: We don't know anybody who lives in Durham

Game On!

From the Herald-Sun:
City Councilman Thomas Stith has quit his day job in preparation for his all-but-announced bid to become Durham's next mayor.

Stith stepped down Friday as vice president of the John William Pope Civitas Institute, a Raleigh think tank that, according to IRS tax filings, tries to promote "conservative solutions for North Carolina's pressing issues."

The move came as Stith prepared for an event today at which he's expected to formally announce his bid to replace incumbent Mayor Bill Bell. He said it was clear he wasn't going to be able to "work full-time, campaign and serve full-time as mayor."

This is gonna be fun.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Game On!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Separated at birth

I was watching Josh Marshall's video tribute to Tony Snow earlier today, and in between the bullshit and the obfuscation, it came to me that his performance was one i'd seen before. Took me a while to figure out where, though.

Tony Snow, circa 2007:

Max Headroom, circa 1987:


Continue reading Separated at birth

You're crazy for taking the bus

You're crazy for taking the bus
Well, i'm crazy, so what's the fuss

- Jonathan Richman

I want to ride DATA, the Durham bus system with the cool name. But commuting to work is out. I'd have to ride to the Duke Medical Center to catch the TTA shuttle to Chapel Hill, then transfer to another shuttle to go back to Hillsborough. My 15 minute commute would be an hour and a half under ideal circumstances. Miss a connection and it's easily two hours.

But what about riding the bus from Duke Park to downtown? I've got a bus stop about 100 yards from my front door down at Avondale Dr.

Let's get a closer look at it.

That's right. The Avondale bus stop is a couple of patches of dirt butt up against one of the busiest thoroughfares in town, with a nice tree to shield your presence from the vision of drivers of oncoming traffic. Not much protection from the elements, either. It was thoughtful of NCDOT to build a sidewalk up from the new I-85 collector/distributor. If only someone had been able to extend the sidewalk for another 30 freakin' feet, at least bus riders wouldn't have to stand in a mud pit whenever it rains.

Of course, proximity to speeding automobiles, lack of shelter from the elements, and a mud pit aren't the only attractions of the Avondale Dr. bus stop.

There's also the wide variety of roadside trash to provide amusement. That's right. There's no trash can provided at the bus stop for people who have to wait as much as 30 minutes between buses. Who knows whose responsibility it is to actually pick the stuff up. I work with Keep Durham Beautiful once a year to do a cleanup, but within a couple of weeks, it looks like this again.

Things aren't much better on the northbound side of Avondale.

Just as unsafe, just as shelterless, and only slightly less trashy. Probably because the rains wash it down the gully to collect a little further down the road. it makes me wonder if proximity to the bus stop is a contributing factor to why this house has been vacant and abandoned for the past 4 years?

Or why this very attractive house just one door up from the bus stop has sat unsold for over 2 months even though the owners have dropped their price by 20%?

No, you don't have to be crazy to ride the bus in Durham. But for me, it's a half hour walk to downtown from my house. I'd rather get the exercise. Maybe when Durham's administrators start taking their responsibilities a little more seriously, we can have a transportation system to be proud of, rather than one that we avoid.

The city is only getting bigger and more populated. The bus system is going to have to serve more and more people as time goes on. If people who don't use the bus are going to be asked to subsidize the system (and that's OK with me. I don't expect a municipal bus system to turn a profit or break even. I do expect it to provide a necessary service.) the least the city can do is put a better face on the system.

Labels: , ,

Continue reading You're crazy for taking the bus

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Inquiring minds want to know

Did the Triangle's Mellow Mushroom restaurants really have Independent Weekly racks removed from their locations because of the cover pictured above?

That can't be a good business decision in Durham, and it's a pretty stupid approach to life in general anywhere, if that's the case.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Inquiring minds want to know

WTF?, or how I rewrote history so I could look myself in the mirror in the morning, by Colin Powell

The former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces.

“I tried to avoid this war,” Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.”

Powell has become increasingly outspoken about the level of violence in Iraq, which he believes is in a state of civil war. “The civil war will ultimately be resolved by a test of arms,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty to watch, but I don’t know any way to avoid it. It is happening now.”

He added: “It is not a civil war that can be put down or solved by the armed forces of the United States.” All the military could do, Powell suggested, was put “a heavier lid on this pot of boiling sectarian stew”.


(via ThinkProgress)

Uh, Colin? Remember this?

While we were here in this council chamber debating Resolution 1441 last fall, we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq. Most of the launchers and warheads have been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection.

. . .

Saddam Hussein already possesses two out of the three key components needed to build a nuclear bomb. He has a cadre of nuclear scientists with the expertise, and he has a bomb design.

Since 1998, his efforts to reconstitute his nuclear program have been focused on acquiring the third and last component, sufficient fissile material to produce a nuclear explosion. To make the fissile material, he needs to develop an ability to enrich uranium.

Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb.

. . .

People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind, these illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material.

Oh, hell, just watch this.

Labels: ,

Continue reading WTF?, or how I rewrote history so I could look myself in the mirror in the morning, by Colin Powell

It's not a bug, it's a feature

Nearly 25 percent of Durham's streets are rated poor or very poor, according to a standardized grading system most North Carolina cities use.

. . .

"A warning: even a cup of coffee with a lid could leak a little as you drive down the road at 35 mph," wrote Ahmed El-Ramly, who lives near Grandale.

Just think of it as Durham's home-grown, we-don't-need-to-pass-another-bond-issue-that won't-solve-the-problem-either, traffic calming system.



Continue reading It's not a bug, it's a feature

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Guess Rd., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Today is July 7, 2007. For a lot of people, it's a propitious day to get married, especially in Vegas. You know, it's 07/07/07.

Last time that date rolled around, a hundred years ago, Las Vegas wasn't even a gleam in Meyer Lansky's eye.

When i was a kid, hundred year anniversaries, especially those related to the Civil War, seemed to pop up with regularity. The hundredth anniversary of this death or that battle made history sound unthinkably distant.

I guess that's why today's centennial of the birth of science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein has me feeling very old. I was reading Heinlein as a kid. Although i think his best work was behind him by the time i first encountered Stranger in a Strange Land as a 15 year old in 1971, he was still an active presence in the SF world, and new books with his name on them appeared pretty regularly during that period.

There's plenty of time and space to discuss Heinlein's craft, his politics, and the significance of his work in our culture. For today, though, let's just wish the old man a happy one hundredth birthday.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Centennials

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday night blues blogging

John Dee Holman does the Chapel Hill Boogie, and Boo Hanks steps it up to go at the West Village courtyard. Tonight's beverage: G&Ts (hey, it was 95 degrees at showtime.)


Continue reading Friday night blues blogging

Friday flower blogging



Continue reading Friday flower blogging

Unchaining dogs

Matt Dees has an excellent article in this morning's N&O about the good work being done by the Coalition to Unchain Dogs in Durham and Orange counties. Read it, then visit their website to make a donation, write a letter to your elected officials urging them to pass legislation banning the practice of continuously tethering dogs, or better yet, volunteer to join them on one of their fence building projects.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Unchaining dogs

Didn't see that coming

Last week, I wrote about the new pedestrian trail currently under construction along the old Brookline Drive. It's supposed to be a pedestrian trail linking Duke Park with the South Ellerbe Creek trail alongside Washington Ave., at Club Blvd. Problem is, the way it's constructed, there's nothing to keep cars off it.
But after looking at the guard rail system that's been installed at the foot of Glendale (above), you have to wonder. The little turnout in the middle right of the photo really has nothing in place to prevent a car or pickup truck from driving over the curb onto the paved trail. And don't think that people won't be doing just that.

Things are no better at the Washington St. end of the trail, which is wide open to vehicles of any size. And given the recent headlines and listserv posts about thefts of storm drain gratings and manhole covers, that's a pretty big oversight.

From an email to the neighborhood listserv this morning:
How do we get the city to put up barriers against car traffic on the new walking path from Washington to Acadia?

Down here at the end of Acadia, we've seen several cars try to drive onto the walking path and have even had to stop a few folks who got 10-20 yards down the path. This evening, I watched a car drive relatively fast out onto Acadia from the other direction (having gotten on from Washington, I'm guessing). This is a little concerning considering the number of families with small children we've seen using the path. Even as an adult, I don't want to worry about taking evening walks (or bike rides home from pub crawls) on our new lovely walking path.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Didn't see that coming

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I'm still trying to puzzle out the reasons and meaning for Richard Hart's sudden resignation as editor of the Independent Weekly.

I thought Richard brought a certain stability and professionalism to the Indy after the rapid changes that preceded his hiring. Under his tenure, the Indy may not have been everyone's idea of what an alt-weekly should be, but i really liked the focus on local music and the Triangle first/North Carolina second approach to both local and national stories. And the overall quality of the writing has been exceptional.

I'm working on digging up some insider stuff, but in the meantime, let's hope that the Indy moves ahead without breaking stride. The Triangle needs a strong progressive media voice.


Continue reading Changes


The real kind, not the metaphorical ones.

Durham Parks and Rec decided a while back that the current mishmash of signage at Durham's parks needed to be updated and unified. Laudable.

Durham voters approved a bond in 2005 that included three quarters of a million dollars for the new signage. Also laudable.

Here's how DPR describe the process of developing the new signage system:
In developing the three final designs for our new signage system, the design consultants toured our parks and met with City staff from multiple departments to determine what was needed at our current facilities and parks.

City staff agreed that the signs needed to be highly visible and made of materials that are both affordable and easy to maintain. City staff also agreed that the signs should utilize component pieces, so we could mix-and-match information as needed for different parks and so that repairs would be easier. Finally, City staff wanted signs that were easy to understand and included graphic icons.

You can see the results here. Click on the link that says "finalists." That will download a 700K pdf file to your computer.

My first reaction was that i couldn't stand any of the proposals, but after spending some time with them, i think that response was just a reaction to the stunning awfulness of the first proposal.

Designs 2 and 3 actually have some viability to them, and with some tweaking, i think #2 could be effective, and retain its usefulness for a couple of decades.

Don't forget, we're going to be living with this design for at least 30 years. Trendiness is a much less desirable attribute than functionality. I'm much more interested in seeing working bathrooms that are reasonably safe and clean, and signs pointing towards them, to be completely honest.

My favorite part of the project, though, is reading the addresses of the firms involved:

I guess that the creative class hasn't yet unpacked from its move to Durham.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Signs

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, America

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Happy birthday, indeed.

Continue reading Happy Birthday, America

A soundtrack for your fireworks


Continue reading A soundtrack for your fireworks


Main St., Durham, NC


Continue reading Irony

Independence Day church marquee blogging

Highway 70, Durham, NC


Continue reading Independence Day church marquee blogging

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bush on Scooter

I pointed to Josh's page in the comments to an earlier post on Libby's sentence commutation. And lord knows, Josh doesn't need links from this podunk blog. But if you haven't seen this, you're really missing something.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Bush on Scooter

Monday, July 02, 2007

The stupidest beer commercial ever

Anheuser-Busch has long since shown that good marketing trumps good beer when it comes to selling lots and lots of malt beverage. And to be fair, Budweiser's been on a commercial roll for well over a decade, going back to the "Yes, I Am" campaign, even though their beer is still not worth drinking.

Heineken has already got the sucky beer part down, but now they're screwing up the other half of the equation with the stupidest beer commercial ever. This one's called "Have it like that." It features interspersed shots of a Heineken Light bottle and a new slimline Heineken Light can, set to some bad hip-hop. The guy, whose voice comes on when the bottle is shown, repeats the phrase "Can i have it like that?" and the i guess it's supposed to be sexy female voice comes on when the can is shown, and she says "You got it like that."

OK, that's just typical Mad. Ave. dumb, and not worth commenting on.

The kicker, and what elevates this commercial into the truly rarefied atmosphere of alltime stupidity is when the man's voice changes gear, while the can is shown from different angles, and he's saying "So drop your purse and grab your hips, and act like you're trying to get this money right quick."

Because comparing your product to a crack whore is the best way to create strong brand identity.

UPDATE: NO, i haven't forgotten about Anheuser-Busch's "Rape Me" billboard from last November. If that billboard was ever a TV commercial, then it didn't show on any programs i watch. And while offensive, that ad wasn't particularly stupid.


Continue reading The stupidest beer commercial ever

Didn't see that coming

Bush commutes Libby prison sentence

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

Whatever will we tell the children? That lying is OK?

UPDATE: White House phone line is 202-456-1111 if you think that giving them your opinion is a worthwhile endeavor.


Continue reading Didn't see that coming

Mea culpa

Kevin reminds me that Saturday night marked Boston Herald sportswriter Steve Buckley's visit to Durham, to take in a Bulls game and other assorted "minor-league" entertainments.

Now, this is actually embarassing for me. See, back in March, when the brouhaha first started boiling over, i wrote: "Quite frankly, i don't really care what you do when you're in Durham. I'll be too busy enjoying myself."

And while i was too busy enjoying myself to check in on Steve over the weekend, the fact is, i went to Raleigh on Saturday night to do so.

The good news is i hung out with a bunch of other Durham bloggers, but there's no getting around the fact that we were in Wake County.

How will i ever live this down?


Continue reading Mea culpa


George W. Bush - July 2, 2003:
Q: A posse of small nations, like Ukraine and Poland, are materializing to help keep the peace in Iraq, but with the attacks on U.S. forces and casualty rates rising, what does the administration do to get larger powers like France and Germany and Russia to join in the American (inaudible)?

BUSH: Well, first of all, you know, we'll put together a force structure that meets the threats on the ground. And we got a lot of forces there ourselves. And as I said yesterday, anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice.

There are some who feel like that if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they're talking about, if that's the case.

Let me finish.

There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.

Of course we want other countries to help us. Great Britain is there. Poland is there. Ukraine is there, you mentioned. Anybody who wants to help, we'll welcome to help. But we got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the situation is secure.

We always welcome help. We're always glad to include others in. But make no mistake about it, and the enemy shouldn't make any mistake about it, we will deal with them harshly if they continue to try to bring harm to the Iraqi people.

I also said yesterday an important point, that those who blow up the electricity lines really aren't hurting America, they're hurting the Iraq citizens. Their own fellow citizens are being hurt. But we will deal with them harshly as well.

Labels: ,

Continue reading Memories

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Museum nights

It's been frustrating the past two Friday nights, as thunderstorms have forced the Warehouse Blues shows indoors, and dampened the party atmosphere.

so, to get my fix of outdoor music and partying, we took in the Southern Culture on the Skids/Talladega Nights double feature at the NC Art Museum. SCOTS was, as always, lots of fun, even if it did seem like a 7 o'clock start time was a wee bit early for those guys. But they're not getting any younger either.

We ran into Phil, Kelly, Geoff, and Philip, and major thanks to those folks for graciously inviting us to share their picnic. Kelly's twist on banana pudding was a real treat.


Continue reading Museum nights

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Roxboro St., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Doggie bits

I'm reading this New York Times article (registration req'd) about dogs and bicyclists interacting poorly in New York's Central Park this morning, and i come across this quote:
Beneath the sylvan veneer of a typical morning in Central Park, a simmering distrust — and in some cases a mutual dislike — exists between dog owners and cyclists. The animosity frequently boils over during the early-morning hours, when many bikers train or race and many dog owners take advantage of the city’s newly codified off-leash dog hours to let their pets frolic freely.

Any New York city readers want to share the details behind this? What are the hours? Are you confined to certain locations? Does the dog have to be under "voice control?" Curious minds want to know.


Continue reading Doggie bits